I’m of several minds about MNGOP Chair Keith Downey’s broadside at the MNDFL and the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” in the Pioneer Press last Thursday.
On the one hand, acknowledging it is a sign that the Minnesota Left’s campaign – relying as it does on relentless name-calling and smearing – works.
On the other hand – it does work. You don’t need to be a pollster to know that the “Emmer Had Two DUIs” jape likely cost Tom Emmer the 2010 gubernatorial election all by itself.
And on the third hand, not acknowledging it won’t make it go away.
And there’s a fourth hand. We’ll come back to that.
Demonizing personal insults flow far too easily from Minnesota Democrats these days. The latest: Rep. Ryan Winkler calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “Uncle Thomas.” Offensive enough on its own, worse, Winkler’s attack is but a symptom.
DFL Party Chair Ken Martin and Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s Executive Director Carrie Lucking have perfected a systematic program in Minnesota that takes political name calling to a new level.
This strategy is straight out of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” Alinsky’s Rule #5 states: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” Rule #12 says: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
And the two – Martin, who’s spent a career as Alida Messinger’s cringing lapdog and bag man, and Lucking, a woman who gives off that “my life peaked in high school” vibe, a former junioir high social studies teacher who was a spectacular two-time failure as a campaign manager (oh, crapt, now I’m doing it. I’m sorry) – have certainly raised name-calling to a low, profane art.
The Democrats’ implementation in Minnesota is intentional and well-developed:
Step one: Attach a negative personal label to an opponent that appeals to emotion and has nothing to do with governing.
Step two: Spend a few million dollars to make the label stick.
Step three: Have your candidates pretend to take the high road.
Although Ryan Winkler never got that memo.
DAMMIT! I’m doing it again! The slope of civility sure is slippery!
Of course, neither Lucking nor Martin can do anything else; Conservatives on Twitter know that neither of them has the brains or the information to debate at a level higher than name-calling…
…sorry. I slipped again.
Unfortunately, this formula has proven effective for Democrats. It is now a rapid-response machine. As any Republican candidate steps forward to run for public office in 2014, within hours, usually minutes, Martin and Lucking flood the online and traditional media. Here is a recent sampling: “just another rich guy who likes to fire people”; “just another hypocritical, Gingrich politician”; “vulture capitalist and Minnesota Romney wannabe #2”; “anti-government government official”; “isn’t quite ready for the bright lights”; “failed businessman, failed gubernatorial candidate and right-wing talker”; “a voice for the hard-core right-wing, not hard-working families”; “an extreme choice for Minnesota.”
As I noted a few weeks back, it’s having a noxious effect on politics in Minnesota; I know personally of one potential candidate for significant office for which the specter of the ABM smear machine is a serious consideration; they seriously wonder if it’s worth the damage their families will take at the hands of the droogs that take ABM’s lies seriously.
Minnesota voters deserve better, and even in politics the truth matters. Public officials and candidates put their lives and careers on hold to step forward and serve the people of Minnesota. Attack their ideas, fair enough; but build a messaging machine to insult them personally?
Now, let’s depart for a moment from Lucking and Martin who, let’s be honest, are just sled dogs pulling the way their musher tells them to.
Who lets them get away with it?
The media brahmins in the editorial suites at 425 Porland, 5th and Cedar and 7th and Cedar like to wax rhapsodic about the need for civility, an informed electorate, and a better brand of politics – usually intoned while looking down their aquiline noses at (conservative) talk radio.
And conservatives – most of talk radio and their alternative media included – almost invariably take the high road. And the closer you get to the seats of conservative power, the less likely you are to see anyone getting their hands dirty.
But ABM’s toxic sleaze campaign is paid for by Mark Dayton’s ex-wife and the group lavishly funded by his biggest supporters – the unions and liberal plutocrats – and run by the significant other (girlfriend or wife – Lucking is cagey on her domestic specifics) of “Governor” Dayton’s Chief of Staff.
And you will find not a f****ng word about it in the Twin Cities media.
Not one word.
Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib, Bill Salisbury at the PiPress, the entire “Capitol
Stenography Press Corps”, everyone is hands-off ABM. TheMinnPost? Hell, that’s turned into another DFL PR firm.
Nobody prodded the coziness of the relationship – one might call it “chain of command” – between Dayton’s office and the attack-PR firm his ex-wife pays his chief of staff’s girlfriend/wife/whatever to run.
It’s another example of the media abdicating what some used to call its “responsibility”.